Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 28 April 1792

From George Washington

Saturday-’forenoon 28th. April 1792

In strict confidence the President of the U.S. sends the enclosed letter for the perusal of the Secretary of State.—No other person has seen, or been made acquainted with the contents.—It is necessary the Secretary should be informed of the circumstances related in the letter.—Tis possible, these politics may have contributed to the change in the Spanish Ministry.—I wish Mr. Short was, or soon would be, at that Court.—I think also Mr. Morris should be urged to embrace every favourable moment to relieve this Country from the impositions laid by France on our (Tobacco) trade &ca.

RC (DLC). Entry in SJPL under 28 Apr. reads: “G. W. to Th: J.—a confidential communication.”


TJ was probably allowed to read Gouverneur Morris’ 4 Feb. 1792 letter to Washington (DLC: Washington Papers; text printed in Gouverneur Morris, A Diary of the French Revolution, ed. Beatrix Cary Davenport [Boston, 1939], ii, 349–58). In this letter, which Washington subsequently described as filled with “interesting and important information,” Morris described at great length recent ministerial changes in France and speculated that French overtures for an alliance with Great Britain against the Emperor would destroy the Family Compact between France and Spain (Washington to Morris, 21 June 1792, Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, Washington, 1931-44, 39 vols. description ends , xxxii, 61). Washington evidently attributed the dismissal in February 1792 of Floridablanca, the Spanish secretary of state for foreign affairs, to the latter of these factors, but for a more accurate analysis of the Spanish minister’s ouster, see Richard Herr, The Eighteenth-Century Revolution in Spain [Princeton, 1958], p. 264–5.

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